Hardball | February 20, 2013
>>> let's play "hardball."
>>> good evening. i'm chris matthews . in washington, let me start with this tonight, with the angriest cries from the right. listen to them. they arise from the last row of the latest town meeting of the tea party . they voices reach up to the highest levels of the gop. the republican party , a long time ago the party of prudence and fiscal responsibility is now the war party of the mideast, the stop the government party here at home. watch tonight as someone who has pander eed to those extreatmen treemz. we start tonight with the tea party and what it does to someone like john mccain . i told you it would come to this and now we've got the proof on camera. a party that spits at its leaders listens only to the loudest, angriest person in the back row. boehner is nothing to this crowd. it never heard of kantor. mitch mcconnell , a nobody. what matters to the republican far right are the few to dare to be even further right. now the huffington post editorial director. the 2013 version of john mccain version took on his constituents who looked like a room full of right wing 2010 mccains with their anti-immigrant build a fence talk. here's a bit of his exchange, if you want to call it that, with angry right wing tea partiers.
>> why didn't the army go down there and stop 'em? because the only thing that stops 'em, i'm afraid to say, and it's too damn bad, but is a gun. that's all that will stop 'em.
>> the border is 2,000 miles long, sir. i don't know how many troops and army people you think would have been required. i don't know how many you think would be required, but i'll give you expert information that shows you that probably maybe you're talking about two million soldiers. there are people who have been here illegally for 50 years or 40 years. am i then telling them to become guest workers ? no, you can't do that. why can't you do that? because we're a judeo principal christian nation . that's why you can't do that.
>> i guess those people aren't judeo christians, you guys. i rarely brag on this show but i've been saying for a long time what's really running the republican now is the angriest guy, we just saw, in the last row of the latest tea party meeting.
>> well, basically they have unleashed the hounds and now the hounds are in charge. they created a frankenstein, whatever metaphor you want to use.
>> i used that one.
>> don't say orwellian because that's what john mccain does and he don't like it. go ahead.
>> the republican party has mobilized the far right over the last few years to beat back obama to, you know, win the house with the tea party in 2010 and they have sort of -- now they're kind of stuck with these people.
>> you mean to say if you play hopscotch or piggyback with j.d. hey hayworth and try to go to his right you may be expected to be at his right. and there's john mccain , the executive producer deserves a lot of praise. here's john mccain 20 -- what is it now, 2013 . trying to disremember he was john mccain 2010 . long ago he was john mccain 2000 .
>> john mccain did what he could to climb aboard the tea party express.
>> to get re-elected.
>> to get re-elected. and now he's confronting his old self as he argues with the guy he was a few years ago, as john reese said. and john mccain has never been good at hiding his anger or his contempt for people he considers to be idiots that are in his way.
>> except that moment happened to disagree with him because he said to build that dang fence.
>> john mccain is the perfect expression, the perfect 'embody embodiment of the schizophrenia the republican party is.
>> he both wants to be the anti-establishment screw the government kind of guy. he's the war hawk , as you said. he's the tea party guy, in certain respects he is. but he's also a guy who wants to get deals done, who believes in the old establishment, loves the senate, was in the navy and is an old republican guy.
>> he worked with kennedy on the old imdwrags bill, he worked with lieberman on climb change. and he also --
>> he also likes to get deals done.
>> you can't do that --
>> he's in many ways an admirable senator except when he's in that mode. here's another taste when more voters remind mccain he once kidded about working with ted kennedy . that brings us to the campaign of three years ago. watch.
>> senator, i remember when you were in bed with kennedy --
>> in bed with kennedy ? thank you.
>> we have a large group of dependent people that are going to -- you want to make citizens that are going to be on -- they're going to be on medicare, they're going to be on welfare, they're going to be on food stamps .
>> well, again --
>> and you know it. what's going to happen is --
>> again, sir, you're not telling these people the truth. they mow our lawns, they care for our babies.
>> you're a senator with the federal government and you're doing nothing about it. you said build a dang fence. where's the fence?
>> in case you missed it, i showed you --
>> that's not a fence.
>> it's not a fence? it's a banana. we're putting up a banana with about $600 million worth of appropriations. sir, you can -- you're entitled to your opinion. you're not entitled to your facts. the facts are that we have made significant improvements.
>> you're stealing from everybody in this audience right here. you're taking away from their social security to give it to a dependent class of people.
>> this is an orwellian experience. i've had enough. you've had enough.
>> to refresh your memory on this dang fence talk. this is what he said in an ad when he went to the far right and was challenged by right wing former congressman j.d. hayworth and he had to hopscotch past him to the right. let's watch.
>> human smuggling, hum invasions, murder.
>> we're outmanned. of all the illegals in america, more than half come through arizona.
>> have we got the right plan?
>> the plan is perfect. you bring troops, state, county and local law enforcement together.
>> and complete the dang fence.
>> it will work this time. senator, you're one of us.
>> well, one of us is dangerous here because when you refer to people, i know we have to get the lingo right in the nicest way of undocumented workers . somewhere between undocumented workers and aliens or illegals is illegal immigrants . when you call them illegals, you're basically saying they're not anything connected to us.
>> it's dehumanizing. if they're illegals they don't deserve citizenship --
>> they're not people. so he was playing their game.
>> he was playing footsie all the way in 2010 . he refused to call himself a maverick. he ran from the john mccain of 2008 and 2000 and 1996 . and now he's kind of in a corner.
>> he's the guy to get off my lawn, mr. wilson in dennis the menace ?
>> they have been many john mccains .
>> which one do you like?
>> david and i have probably covered most of them.
>> which one do you like?
>> 2000 was mccain at his best.
>> he was up against w.
>> he was up against w., which brought out the best of his reformist instincts and the best -- the best side of his anti-establishment instincts and he was terrific.
>> best town meeting we ever had back in those days, those wonderful big town meetings was auburn.
>> well, new hampshire, chris, i remember one in new hampshire, a thousand people showed up and they were a thousand reasonable people.
>> that because bush was on one extreme and other people around there. that was the mccain we liked.
>> you said something usually brilliant by you, which is that he personified the schizoid nature of the republican party . he tries to be part of the governing of the united states . he gets paid to be a senator and to get something done, to pass bills, to legislate, to refine, to improve the government, the country. and yet the other part is this other guy, this enraged person who wants to at least pretend he doesn't believe in government.
>> well, on a simple level, he needed to be that other guy in order to be able to get back in the room to make deals as this guy. he thinks people will forget the fact that he was that other guy. well, the people at the meeting don't forget that.
>> why is he calling these meetings?
>> that's a very good question.
>> i have a theory. i think he's trying to ward off a real primary challenge next time because he wants to be a senator for life , which is fine for me. but that's what he wants to do.
>> i don't think there will be a next time for him.
>> you don't think he'll run again?
>> i think there have been too many john mccains . he'll lose to a real right candidate or real reasonable democrat.
>> claude pepper . some of these guys learn how to change.
>> those are old days. he can't change fast enough.
>> here he is. he didn't take to a reporter's question about the audience reception. here he is plowing into in the same mood we saw him with the people with reporters.
>> oh, sure. people are people unhappy. most of the people in here are happy. most of the people in here agree with me. most of the people agree that as was carried recently, 70% of the american people believe there should be a path to citizenship as long as they pay a fine, pay backs taxes, get in line behind everybody else .
>> would you say 70% of the people in the room agree?
>> sure, absolutely. what's your problem?
>> i don't have a problem.
>> yeah, you to do because you keep somehow thinking that this was not a typical town hall meeting . it is.
>> i've been to many meetings. this felt like --
>> i'm glad to know you're an expert. i'm the one going to the town hall meetings and we have lots of them and they're very vigorous and that's what they're supposed to be.
>> what's that about? you're an expert. he didn't say he was an expert, he just said i've been coming to these town meetings .
>> all i can say is that mccain has gone in and out of love with the press corps as they have with him.
>> did you ever put up with that lip?
>> well, he used to like to -- but in a good-natured way. i mean i think overall he's become a meaner person than he was 12 or nine years ago.
>> let's talk a bigger question rather than just the personality traits of this fellow and different people that are sometimes in the same body. i want you to look at a montage as we call it. this isn't the first time an audience has shown its right wing features, it's anger against in this case illegal immigrants . when all of a sudden you see by maude, these people really are haters. let's take a look at it. these are from the debates this past year.
>> in 2010 when i was deployed to iraq. i had to lie about who i was because i'm a gay soldier. i didn't want to lose my job. my question is under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumventing the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?
>> your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times . [ applause ] have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?
>> no, sir, i have never struggled with that at all.
>> that's what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. this whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody -- [ applause ]
>> but congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?
>> well, there you have in three different cases, a gay soldier fighting for this country overseas and you have the question of people, lots of -- dozens and dozens, hundreds of people being executed in texas. every time the word is "execute" or to bash a gay soldier or let someone down because they don't have health insurance , it is so viciously right wing.
>> the trick is, and the trick on both extremes of american politics , especially conservatives and republicans over the last 50 years, is to turn that resentment and that fear and that anger to productive purposes. to channel it into a tax cut program or channel it into legislation to drain the swamp which ronald reagan was supposedly going to do. reagan had the ability to take the energy of that resentment and bring it into the mainstream. the problem that the republicans have now is that they have this sort of boiling cauldron down there and they have nowhere -- they have no people able to channel it.
>> but there's a difference between resent maenment and hatred. it may be a fine line in politics but i think they moved from resentment to hatred.
>> when mccain isn't right wing enough, you know we have problems.
>> without any leaders to contain it, that's the way it's going to be.
>> congratulations on your program rachel introduced and explained, that whole story of your book, it's an amazing book. also had a huge audience. people do care about the dishonesty about the war in iraq . they really do care. thank you, howard and david.
>>> guess who has the high ground again in his battle with republicans? the latest debate in washington is going just the way the democrats hoped it would. republicans defending the wealthy again. president obama out there for the middle class . how can it be so good?
>>> also how much have we heard from republicans since the election about how they know they need to change? don't worry, we got the message they keep telling us. check out the names of the next month's conservative political caucus. pailin, lapierre, santorum, newt. i could go on with all these names.
>>> later, it feels a bit like the new improved edsall, doesn't it? how the media machine turned a tongue in cheek joke by a reporter into a deliberately misleading story that chuck hagel talked to a nonexistent group called friends of hamas. never happened. no such group.
>>> let me finish with a new bipartisan push for marriage equality . this is "hardball," the place for politics. the carful?